Yoga Exercise - Hatha Yoga

Traditionally, yoga is a practice of controlling the mind perfectly in order to experience lasting inner peace and contentment.

Yoga exercise, if anything, would mean exercising the mind.

The physical exercise part of yoga came with the idea that you cannot easily achieve the state of inner peace and happiness when your body is weak, stiff, and aching. So ancient yoga masters developed a few techniques to rid the body of its weakness and ailments.

yoga exercise like a wild tree

With time, more focus was made on the physical component. Yoga exercise grew into many styles, and was given the name Ha-tha Yoga, which indicates its physical intent.

Now, yoga exercise is like a tree, which started as a tiny seed, and has become a blooming, blossoming, continuously-evolving practice with lots of styles and variations.

Major Component of Healthy Lifestyle

Any form of exercise is essential to health.

I am biased in favor of yoga, not only because it's such a well-rounded form of exercise, but also because it's a form of healing.

What's missing in Yoga Exercise

Just a few minor things.

One is a good cardiovascular workout to let the heart muscle pump. Some styles of yoga are able to achieve that aerobic effect, but it's not as 'clean' as running, for example, or swimming, biking, dancing, or martial arts training.

The second thing that's missing is the workout for the fast-twitch muscle fibers. These muscles fibers are responsible for quick, explosive movements and are essential in many sports like sprint running, baseball, tennis, martial arts, and hockey. They are, however, not critical for optimal health. Maybe, that is why yoga has excluded them.

Lastly, the essential and necessary element of being in the moment in many sports (and forms of exercise) is not necessary in yoga. Being in the moment is one of the most important aspects of yoga practice. But, if you happen to lose yourself in your thoughts, it's OK, you won't get punched in the face or get hit with a hockey stick or a basketball.

In yoga, we PRACTICE being in the moment. In sports, we HAVE TO be in the moment.

4 Essential Components of Exercise:
Missing Any of These?

A perfect type of exercise will include all of these.

In my opinion, yoga exercise, martial arts, and dancing are the best kinds.

1. Cardiovascular, Aerobic Exercise

Let the heart pump more blood, the lungs move more air, and the skin produce some sweat.

Healthy Exercise

Healthy Habit #8-1 Cardio exercise 3X/week.

Ideally, your cardiovascular exercise should include many varied types of movement, avoiding excessive repetitive movements.

Dancing, Martial Arts, and certain styles of Yoga Exercise probably offer the best and safest cardio workout.

Among the styles of yoga, dynamic Hatha yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa, Flow, Power yoga, and their derivatives would fit this category.

At a minimum, do a half-hour workout three times a week. Ideally, half-hour to an hour every day.

2. Muscle-strengthening, Weight-bearing Exercise

The most important point that I would like to make here is that one needs to focus on creating EVEN, BALANCED strength around the joints of the body.

When you work out for strength, make sure to work ALL muscles around a particular joint. Don't just strengthen the chest, without strengthening the upper back. Don't just focus on the abs without taking care of the lower back and the Glutes.

Otherwise, you'll end up with a postural imbalance and chronic muscle tension.

Yoga exercise is again one of the best ways to create that kind of EVEN and BALANCED strength.

Healthy Habit #8-2 Muscle-strengthening,
weight-bearing exercise.

Ideally, every day, spend at least fifteen minutes to affect/stress/tone all the major muscle groups.

Here are a few suggestions for Yoga for Muscle Strength.

3. Flexibility

In my practice, I see people stiffen with age and illness all the time. I can't stress enough how important flexibility is.

Our modern lifestyle forces us into unnatural positions. If we don't stretch out to the edges of our flexibility EVERY DAY, we can get stuck in those unnatural positions. A lot of people do.

Healthy Habit #8-3 Work on Flexibility every day.
Stretch out to the edges of your comfort.

Don't stretch beyond the edge, though. Keep it safe and enjoyable.

Develop a routine. Ask a qualified instructor to teach you a few stretches for all the major muscle groups. Especially, the ones that tend to get tight, like side hips, pectorals, hip flexors, and shoulders.

Whenever you get a chance, STRETCH. Five, ten, twenty times a day. As long as you stay within your comfortable zone, you are OK.

4. Balance and Coordination

Healthy Habit #8-4 Develop balance
with multi-dimensional forms of exercise.

Often, balance is the most difficult part. Balance and coordination require a. even muscle tone around the joints involved in balancing, and a well-developed sense of b. proprioception, the sense of the body in space.

For example: Tree pose.
Joints involved: Spinal, hip, knee, and ankle.

All four components of exercise can be combined and addressed at the same time. In fact, it's better that way. A good yoga class will have all four components in it. Just as a good Martial Arts class will include all of them as well.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are based upon the opinions, research, and experiences of Surya (Slava Kolpakov), unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to treat, prescribe, diagnose, or replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or yoga therapist and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.